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Coyote Valley

Many years ago, my great-grandparents, Arthur and Elsie Allen, were given a lot on old Coyote Valley. They cleared it and planted grapes. The pace at which the land was cleared upset the local agent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It seems unlikely that they ever planned to make a life on the parcel. These enterprising Indians sought to better the future for their family through hard work and common sense. Elsie was a Pomo from Sonoma County whose father was from the Cloverdale/Yorkville area. Arthur was a Ukiah Indian.

I type these things with some reluctance. To characterize my lineage is to offer ammunition to those who would alienate and abandon ties with my family. The government of Coyote Valley followed in the sinister footprints of Pinoleville's by disenrolling large numbers of my family. Rather than honoring the very real connections among Indian families, all surviving the same trends of colonization, these governments seek to disunite, polarize and destroy the relationships. Instead of seeking ways to highlight the ways in which we belong, these wicked enrollment officers seize any incident or accident that can be leveraged to cause pain.

It wasn't always like this. Even in my life, things have been handled differently.

When I was a boy, I learned that the Round Valley Indian Housing Authority was planning to develop low-income HUD housing on the new Coyote Valley. My understanding is that the tribe needed us to formally enroll in order to create an adequate head-count for the proposed project. We did enroll. We were accepted. It seemed there was no issue at that time.

Over the next several years, we watched the development process with great anticipation. My grandparents all lived on Pinoleville and we lived in Talmage and the City of Ukiah. When I was a student at Ukiah High, the houses were completed and we moved to Coyote Valley. We were thrilled to live in a new home. We were happy to have more family than ever living so close by. There was a tribal office/community center built with block grants. I got a California Indian Manpower Consortium summer job through the Job Partnership Training Act right down the hill at the tribal offices. We appreciated so much of what we experienced.

But it wasn't a good fit. We began to realize that the price to be paid for living on a Rez was too great for the sake of the house. I wasn't able to have visitors without their cars being vandalized. There was always a party going on in one of the houses and the temptation to get off track was too serious to risk. While we are quick to point out that we are far from perfect, the level of sickness was too much to bear.

We moved out of our still-new house and back to Pinoleville. We rescinded our tribal membership at Coyote Valley and signed on at the Pinoleville Indian Community.

Coyote Valley eventually erected the Shodakai Casino as well as a gymnasium that has been a good thing for the community. I worked for a short time at Shodakai, although there never was a chance of me surviving the 90-day probation.

Many of my family members stayed on at CV. Several have served on the Council. For most of them, Coyote Valley is their home tribe. They are a good fit, culturally speaking. They have bonded, growing up as neighbors and strengthened the community bonds as much as is possible.

This is why it was so sad when CV eliminated them from the membership rolls. I understand why CV would never take me back. I am a bigmouth and somewhat of an ingrate at times. These others of my family, though, never put on airs. They didn’t move on in search of something different. They truly became Coyote Valley Pomo. To have evicted them from their homes, fired them from their jobs and relegated them to non-Indian legal status is an unforgivable crime. It was from this cold sickness that my Mother fled with us.

We were once told that an old Indian woman was expected for an engagement at Coyote Valley. When the car that she was in pulled off of 101, she made the driver stop. She refused to proceed, indicating that she saw only hellfire when she looked at the land there. Anybody familiar with local goings-on knows of the alarming rate of meth abuse, molest, cruelty to animals and other such treachery that occurs on CV. Something has to be done for the sake of the children. If not for the children, then perhaps for the sake of the dogs. Think twice before locating a casino next to your home. That's a gamble with very crappy odds.


  1. Jennifer Allen Valadao August 19, 2011

    Very well put! I can feel ya in these words. I was born and raised on the Pinoleville roll. As was my father, grandparents and great grandparents. Until leona took office and by my 20th birthday I got a letter that I was removed. My father and all of his surviving siblings still reside on the rez, unfortunately struggling to have basics like water and electric. My father, a Pinoleville Pomo, worked hard his whole life as a local auto technician, and was able to raise his kids off of the rez. As teenagers we ended up, luckily, back living on the rez. With his disabling medical conditions, he wasnt able to work anymore. The Pinolville tribe has not contributed one cent to my family. We have 6 elders living under conditions that they dont deserve. Our people deserve respect and preserved dignity. Being disenrolled has only stripped us of our culture. No one can ever remove my memories, values, or loyalty to my family. I dont know how this dang casino proposal got approved anyway, who ever thinks that Ukiah needs another one is crazy!

  2. Denise Crabtree Brown June 21, 2013

    You said it perfectly! Thank you Eric! Brought tears to my eyes.

  3. We are all cousins, after 14 years I’m running for trribal chairman. In 1991 I was the 1st elected Excutive Chief. My Grandfather is from Pinolevill, Francis Allen, My Grandmother from Cloverdale Lena Cordova-Maysee. My auntie Elsie Allen. We are one people. Our elders thought us right. No one can take away our Indianness. Keep fighting, the creator will have his way and make everything right.

  4. A. Belton April 9, 2016

    Another case of cultural genocide assisted by Les Marston. This is no joke, look it up, Les Marston was Coyote Valleys attorney during this dis enrollment. He helped remove a good family, who supported the opposing faction. He is willing to remove Indian women and children from there homes in order to secure a pay check as a tribes attorney. Please everyone stay clear of LES MARSTON he is evil.

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